Growing up the child of a missionary/evangelist involved its share of uncertainty, but one thing remained constant throughout the years of my childhood; we came home for Christmas. There were years we couldn’t afford many gifts, but we always arrived in Sunfield, Illinois, for the Christmas Eve program at the Methodist Church. After the program Santa would come out and I always wondered how he knew I was going to be there (being from out of state and all) but each year I received a gift.
One Christmas we were just barely able to afford the pilgrimage from Texas to Illinois. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant along the interstate called Tastee World, a companion to a Days Inn motel. We went in and intently gazed at the menu when Dad broke the news to us that we could not afford soft drinks. When dad ordered the pitcher of water, my face must have shown the horror of hearing those terrible words, but we had long since learned to make the best of things. When the waitress returned she said in a most chipper voice, “Here is your water,” and poured it into our empty glasses. I picked up my glass, took a drink and my taste buds began to soar; powerfully, wonderfully, infinitely; it was TEEM! Teem, the lemon-lime soft drink complete with delicious bubbles and wondrous bouquet. A little later the waitress asked if we needed more water and returned with another pitcher of Teem. She winked at me with a compassionate smirk that revealed we had a little secret.
I don’t remember what Santa gave me that year at Sunfield Methodist or what my parents got me for that matter, but I do remember the most wonderful gift ever received. A pitcher of Teem at a Tastee World restaurant from a waitress I didn’t know in a town I don’t remember. Perhaps baby Jesus on that special day turned the water into Teem just for a little boy going home for Christmas.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois and the author of “Exactly as I Remember it.”